Working in healthcare

Working with the arts in healthcare can present a range of challenges. Although many of the issues that arise overlap with other areas of artistic work, such as projects in educational settings, there are also a number of issues that are of particular importance when working with people with health conditions. In general, each health organization will have its own set of policies and protocols for safeguarding patients and the public and reducing risk. However, there are still key essentials that can be transferred between settings and that should be considered both prior to an arts in health activity being delivered and across its duration. This chapter will cover crucial information for administrators, project managers, and practitioners that may also be useful for researchers before they design and lead arts in health projects.

Patient safeguarding

When delivering arts in health interventions, the most fundamental issue is that patients and the public engaging with the intervention are safeguarded. Safeguarding refers broadly to protecting individuals from harm and supporting their health, wellbeing, and human rights. The term is particularly used in the UK and Ireland, but the concept is global. Defining what safeguarding should entail when delivering arts in health interventions can be complex. As interventions are often provided alongside a person’s usual care, issues such as who bears responsibility for an individual (whether the core health team or those involved in additional services) can come to the fore. However, to provide optimum protection for an individual, everyone who works with that individual should be concerned with their safeguarding and welfare. There are a number of ways that this can be achieved.

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